In 1986 after lobbying by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the United States Congress passed the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) which made it illegal for any federal agency to create a centralized database of firearm registrations. When a firearm is bought, the transaction is recorded via form 4473. This form is sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) where it is photographed stored as a JPEG, a non-searchable format. The ATF currently stores over 70 million 4473 forms.
When a gun crime is committed and a weapon is found at the scene, the ATF agents manually scan through images of form 4473 to find a matching serial number. This labor intensive process requires hundreds of agents and takes weeks to find a single form. Criminals that commit a gun crime are statistically more likely to commit another gun crime shortly after, thus every minute counts when identifying the owner of a gun.
What it does
Technology based on computer vision and artificial intelligence that can quickly analyze the contents of the Form 4473 JPEG images and identify a match to any of the ~8,000 trace request. Multiple devices can work in unison to effectively analyze millions of files and reduce a multi-week trace to days or hours. This approach could improve the overall success rate of a gun trace by 4%-12%.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
It works really well. We are very proud of the speed and accuracy of the prototype.